Archive for June 6th, 2014

Government officials in dry-run for Tsunami

| 06/06/2014 | 0 Comments

CNS): While residents might think that heading for the top of Mount Trashmore is about the safest thing to do in Cayman if a Tsunami is heading our way government officials took place in a collaborative table-top exercise Thursday at the Government Administration Building to work out what really should happen. Organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the exercise tested the emergency preparedness of FCO representatives in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, as well as staff in London.

Exercise Sunseeker, involved an imaginary tsunami coming ashore on Grand Cayman on Seven Mile Beach in the vicinity of the Hyatt hotel. The fictional tidal wave also adversely impacted Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Governor Helen Kilpatrick who led the local response said the exercise aimed to foster collaboration between the UK and local emergency agencies. Front-line representatives from Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the FCO’s London and Miami offices also took part.

“The drill has enhanced preparedness and underscored lessons learnt – from small, logistical issues to larger matters such as the exact protocol involved in who decides where limited resources and the Royal Navy will be deployed in actual events, as well as who will benefit from such deployment,” she sad

Local representatives included Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Government Information Services, and four local consular representatives who were observing the process.

The exercise concluded with a debriefing, which took a critical look at the management of the simulated crisis. The debrief participants focused on areas they might review to better strengthen preparedness. These included the timing of any initiation of the Governor’s Emergency Powers, as well as a need to fine-tune communications between the UK and the Cayman Islands.

The exercise was a timely precursor to the annual two-day Hurricane Preparedness exercise scheduled to take place next week.

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Work experience in Year 12 offers long-term benefits

| 06/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): HSM Group, a small law firm that launched in 2012,has made a significant commitment to the work placement programme of the government’s Cayman Islands Further Education Programme (CIFEC) for Year 12 students. Although HSM currently has just 35 staff members, they take on about ten students each year, who each work at the firm two days a week during the academic school year. Founding Partner Huw Moses, in this week’s interview with CNS Business, said that three to five students who have really shined during the programme are taken on as paid summer students during July, August and September. Three past CIFEC work experience students now work full time at HSM, he said. Read more on CNS Business

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Watch full interview on YouTube

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Aviation authority issues warning to SUA users

| 06/06/2014 | 22 Comments

(CNS): People using small unmanned aircraft (SUA) either for recreational use or for commercial aerial work are being warned that the unauthorised use of these air vessels poses a danger to air transport and is against the law. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) said recent reports suggest that there has been a significant increase in the operation of SUA on Grand Cayman for recreational and commercial use, particularly in the George Town and Seven-Mile Beach areas and in the vicinity of the airport. “Such operations pose a high risk of an incident or accident that may be caused by the impact of an SUA with a conventional aircraft,” CAACI officials said.

In addition to aircraft taking off and landing at the airports, the authority said that there are also low altitude aircraft operations involving the MRCU spray plane as well as the RCIPS and CIH helicopters that the SUAs can threaten.

Legislation covering the operation of SUA in Cayman Islands airspace is covered in Article 73 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013. Anyone who contravenes this provision of the Order may be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding CI$3,400.00.

“SUA operations for commercial purposes (Aerial Work) requires a permission issued by the CAACI,” an authority spokesperson said in a release Friday. “Permission may be granted after the operator has been assessed as being competent to provide such a service in a safe manner and has adequate third-party liability insurance in the event of an accident or incident occasioning damage to property or injury to persons.”

The CAACI confirmed that it has not yet granted permission to any SUA operator to conduct Aerial Work operations.

Enquiries should be made, in the first instance, to the Director of Air Navigation Services Regulation, telephone 1-345-949-7811 ext 242 or email alastair.robertson@caacayman.com

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Injured suspect admits part in jewel heist

| 06/06/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A George Town man mowed down by the police commissioner in an SUV following a daylight robbery at a jewellery store on New Year’s Day is the first of three suspects in the case to answer the charges. Jonathan Ramoon pleaded guilty Thursday when he appeared in Grand Court, standing in the dock on crutches, for the first time since he was run down in the post-robbery chase by the local police boss. David Baines was recently cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with the incident in which Ramoon sustained internal injuries and suffered several broken bones, including his leg hip and arm.

Ramoon, who is represented by Irvin Banks, has been charged with robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with the early morning hold-up at Diamonds International in downtown George Town on 1 January, in which more than $800,000 worth of jewels were stolen.

Two other men who are also charged with the same offences have not yet answered the charges. John Furniss, who is representing Christopher Myles, said enquiries regarding his client were still ongoing and James  McLean, who has just instructed a new lawyer, Nick Hoffman, asked for more time.

All three man are expected to return to court next month.

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FRC encourages dads to get involved with kids

| 06/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Family Resource Centre (FRC) is organising  a Be a Dad Daily campaign to get fathers to be more hands on in their children’s daily lives. Ahead of Father’s Day, 15 June organisers are encouraging dads to make breakfast, pack lunches, help with pick-ups or organise a trip to the barbershop. The campaign will run throughout the month of June, as FRC hosts events and media spots highlighting the ever-changing role of the father. FRC’s Programme Coordinator Miriam Foster said fathers, and male caregivers should play an active role in children’s lives. Foster said kids with active dads are more confident, less vulnerable to abuse, better able to deal with frustration, independent and more likely to mature into compassionate adults, with high self-esteem and enhanced social skills.

This Saturday, participants of the Father’s First programme will enjoy a day of family BBQ and games and the

FRC also encouraged people to tune into Cayman27 and Radio Cayman where fathers will be talking about the difference between their fathers and the way that they father today. Facebook fans can also visit the Family Resource Centre’s page and submit photos to the “Get Caught Being a Dad” competition.

For more information, contact: Miriam Foster at 916-5548 or call FRC at 949-0006 or email frc@gov.ky
 

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Cubans rounded up and resident arrested

| 06/06/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Two Cuban migrants who escaped from the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) on Wednesday morning were rounded by immigration officers on Thursday night following a police and immigration operation in the Northward area, and a permanent resident was arrested for housing the escaped refugees. The Cubans were the latest in a long line of escapees and a recent near riot against a backdrop of community concerns that the security firm at the detention centre is not able to fulfil its remit. However, the head of immigration said that until a new policy for the centre, which is in the works, is in place, she had no choice but to use a private firm as she does not have the staff to man the Fairbanks location.

“Unfortunately, we don't have a choice but to use a security company as the Immigration Department does not have sufficient personnel to manage the IDC on a daily basis. We have used another security company before but the results were not improved,” Linda Evans explained, adding that the security officers don’t have the authority to restrain anyone attempting to escape. “The escapes are primarily because the Cubans are upset over the length of time it takes for Cuba to allow for their repatriation.”

The other reason, she explained, was state of the fencing but new fencing for the perimeter has been sourced and is expected to arrive Monday for immediate installation ‎.

However, echoing comments from the chief officer this week, she said that changes were coming and a new policy would soon be in place as the centre will soon fall under the prison management.

Speaking in Finance Committee on Thursday, Premier Alden McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly that prison staff will be used going forward and indicated that the prison director’s wife, who is also a correctional officer, has been given the job of heading up the IDC.

Since the start of this year over 140 Cuban migrants have arrived in Cayman, and although 98 have been repatriated, there are more than forty men still at the detention centre in the Fairbanks area of George Town.

Meetings that had been arranged with Cuban officials about speeding up the repatriation process and other issues, the premier said, as the repatriation time was fuelling frustrations among the detainees and causing the recent near-riots and the escapes. However, these have been delayed until September.

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Job ad causes local stir

| 06/06/2014 | 362 Comments

(CNS) Updated: A vacancy advertised in the local press is causing a stir on social media as it provides a stark illustration of what some people believe is common practice to exclude Caymanians from the job market. The post for a widely experienced and very well qualified personal assistant for a well-known company looks on the surface like a great opportunity for many Caymanians qualified enough to apply, but given the list of skills required, a look at the salary makes it clear that the permit holder in post is being truly exploited. Despite wanting a degree and significant workplace skills, the job pays less than $300 per week. However, the employer has contacted CNS and said that in addition to the salary, the successful applicant gets a free one-bed apartment, travel benefits and bonuses.

Frank Flowers told CNS that those details were inadvertently left off the advertisement but a new one would be placed shortly.

The ad was posted on Facebook by local activist Sandra Catron on Thursday and it attracted more than 100 comments from local people shocked by the blatant abuse of the system.

Despite the additional benefits that Flowers has now confirmed, the job pays just $1200 per month despite the extensive skills, experience and qualifications applicants need to have. Catron described the ad as absurd and one of many she has encountered where the salaries and qualifications requested simply do not coincide with anything remotely reasonable.

“People are outraged by many of the requirements listed by this company for a salary that most people could not live on in such an expensive jurisdiction,” Catron said, explaining why she had posted the ad on Facebook and generated the debate by asking Caymanians if they would work for the wages on offer.

She said it demonstrated the need for a minimum wage and to recruit the much needed immigration and labour compliance officers to carry out more stringent audits of companies.

“This only breeds poverty, which we already have enough of and should not be permitted. The outrage online illustrates that people are truly fed-up with these tactics often aimed at discouraging Caymanians from applying. How can someone survive here on $1200.00?" she asked.

However, government has only just named the minimum wage committee and the premier has signalled his desire to encourage rather than compel employers, so this kind of exploitation will continue.

Alva Suckoo, the PPM’s back bench councillor and Bodden Town representative who raised concerns about this very practice in the Legislative Assembly last week, said that this was the type of thing he wants government to tackle. While Suckoo said he had not had the chance to verify the details of this particular advertisement, the MLA said it is common practice.

“I fully understand that there may be jobs where suitable Caymanians are not available and these cases may merit a work permit application, but in the case of jobs where the ads have clearly been written to either discourage Caymanians from applying or tailored for someone who is trying to renew a permit, there is no excuse and the immigration department needs to take action,” he said. “It is very discouraging to see this practice become so common-place here in Cayman, and it seems that certain employers are going out of their way to avoid hiring qualified Caymanians.”

The MLA, who was on the task force at the NWDA and ran his own recent job drive in his constituency, said he had encountered this problem on several occasion and it was fuelling the cheap labour market, which was causing real issues for young Caymanians attempting to gain entry-level jobs.

“Unless steps are taken to ensure that our people are given opportunities on a level-playing field we are never going to resolve the unemployment issues faced by Caymanians.
“While we may want to introduce a Carrot vs Stick approach as an ideal, I also believe that employers need to understand that they are expected to act responsibly and reasonably as well,” he said, as he pointed to the recent signal by his party leader that compelling employers to take on locals hasn’t worked.   “It’s a shame not a triumph when we have to offer incentives in order to get employers to hire qualified Caymanians,” the Progressives back-bencher added.

“I will never condone forcing the hiring of people who cannot do the job, but this is not about that, this is about employers playing games, lying to immigration, and designing job ads to get a permit renewed or approved in clear violation of the law. I know I will be accused of encouraging 'entitlement' but one only needs to look at the daily job ads to find blatant examples of the almost daily occurrences,” Suckoo told CNS. “The introduction of a minimum wage will help to some extent but more enforcement of the Immigration Laws needs to happen as well. We have introduced a $20,000 fine for the offence of lying to immigration in order to get a work permit and it’s time we start using it.”

The chief immigration officer told the LA during the Finance Committee proceedings on Thursday that so far no one has been prosecuted under that new law but two cases were being investigated.

Suckoo said that countries the world over are taking steps to protect their labour pools and Caymanians had to stop feeling guilty for taking similar steps.

“I’m not encouraging 'entitlement'; I am encouraging the education, training, development and hiring of all Caymanians, whether indigenous or by status, as a priority, and I will make no excuses or apologies for doing that. I encourage the development of an integrated, mixed and balanced labour pool but not at the expense or to the detriment of my Caymanians,” he said.

The ad also drew the attention of Suckoo’s district colleague and health minister, Osbourne Bodden, who commented on the Facebook posting, writing that the salary must be incorrect and suggest someone call to check as he said it didn’t “appear logical".

CNS contacted Employment Minister Tara Rivers and the councillor in that ministry, Winston Connolly, about the job ad and is awaiting a response.

The vacancy for a personal assistant requires a bachelor’s degree, secretarial and management communication qualifications, 60 wpm typing, extensive computer skills, writing, event organising, stress tolerance and even physical fitness and the ability to swim.

See the ad below.

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